Written by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com
Overview: Marjolet is a two-hander played in southwestern France. It's a member of the Bezique family. Players play cards to tricks and draw their way through the deck, making scoring melds along the way.
We've included Marjolet on this website primarily for reference. If you like a game of this kind, we recommended instead our enhanced version, called Jack Royal.
Players and Equipment: The game uses the 32-card “French deck.” Create it by removing all cards below the 7 from a standard 52-card deck. The remaining 32 cards rank:
A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7.
Note that the 10 is the second-highest card, ranking right below the Ace.
Goal: To win a hand by scoring the most points. You score by taking Aces and Tens in tricks (called brisques), and by declaring melds (sets of matched cards).
To win a game across hands by being the first to make 500 or more points.
Deal: Deal each player 6 cards. Turn one card up and lay it next to the remaining part of the deck (the stock). The turned-up card dictates the Trump suit for the hand.
Play: The non-dealer leads a card to the first trick. His opponent can play any card (you are not required to follow suit). The trick is won by the higher card of the suit led, or by the highest trump, if any are played.
The winner of the trick may declare one or more melds if he cares to. He then takes the top card of the stock into his hand, and his opponent takes the next card. The trick winner then leads any card to the next trick. In this manner, the two opponents play cards to tricks, declare melds, and draw through the entire deck.
Honor Melds: Winning a trick allows a player to declare any of these melds:
|King & Queen of Trump suit (Trump Marriage)||40|
|King & Queen of same non-trump suit (Common Marriage)||20|
|Trump Jack & Trump Queen||40|
|Trump Jack and any non-Trump Queen||20|
Melds are placed face-up in front of the player who declares them. These face-up cards may later be used by that player just like the cards in his hand (played to tricks when desired).
A melded card can be used in other melds as well. For example, a Queen might be melded with a King of the same suit in a Marriage, then melded a second time later as part of a Trump-Jack-plus-Queen combination.
The trump Jack (called the Marjolet) may be re-melded to different Queens.
The Seven of Trump (the Dix): The seven of trump, or the dix, is special. If the dealer turns it up as the trump card when dealing, he scores 10 points. If a player has the dix in his hand, after winning a trick, he may exchange it for the turn-up trump. The player scores 10 points for the exchange. Or if he does not exchange, he scores 10 points when playing the dix to a trick (it does not matter whether or not he wins the trick).
The “Close” -- and More on Scoring: Eventually, one player draws the last face-down card from the stock, and his opponent takes the turn-up trump. The deck from which to draw is now exhausted or closed. Both players now take any of their melded cards on the table up into their hands
Now the rules of trick-play change. For these last six tricks, you must follow the suit led, if possible, and win the trick if possible. If you can not follow suit, you must trump if possible (if you can not trump, you may play any card). Players may not declare melds after the close.
The winner of the last trick scores 10 points. Should either player win all six tricks after closing, he wins 50 points.
Also the person who loses the 10th trick and draws the final card from stock (the turn-up card), scores 10 points (** correction from John McLeod of Pagat.com -- changed this from "winner" to "loser". Thank you, John for this correction.)
After the hand ends, both players count their Aces and 10’s. They score 10 points for each.
Scoring Summary: Here is a scoring summary for all points outside of the honor melds.
|Dealer turns up a seven for the trump card||10|
|Seven of trumps (dix) played to trick or exchanged for the turn-up||10|
|Losing the 10th trick in the hand||10|
|Winning the last trick||10|
|Winning all six final tricks||50|
|Each Ace taken in tricks (Brisque)||10|
|Each 10 taken in tricks (Brisque)||10|
Strategy: Win tricks for two purposes in this game:
Part of the tension in the game is the balance between the cards you play to tricks, versus those you keep in hand in hopes of making melds. Ideally you assemble meldable cards in hand while playing low cards to tricks, yet keeping a “trick winner” in hand for when needed.
Another tension is between winning Aces and 10’s in tricks, versus casting them off on occasion to develop melds. In many hands, one player scores more in melds while his opponent scores more in brisques (Aces and 10’s).
Be flexible in the melds you chase. A good memory for what cards have been played is essential.
Sources: The only book in English that covers Marjolet is Oxford A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett. This was the first write-up of this game on the web in English and it conforms to Parlett. I thank John McLeod of Pagat.com for his correction of two errors in the original description (one error was the points awarded for one of the 4-of-a-kind melds, the other was points awarded on the 10th trick of the game.)